More than just a word

Joe Dapper

“Sustainability” means more than you might think

So what does sustainability really mean? Sustainability week is coming up and few of us, myself included, even know what the name means. Heck, they got cool T-shirts, but I want to rally behind an intelligible cause; I want to root for a team I relate to. So before we even look toward the upcoming weeks, a little prepping is necessary to brush up on a key term.

Sustainability(noun): our ability as a civilization to survive and adapt without using more renewable resources than can be replenished naturally.

In short, to leave the world better than we found it.

But like in the wake of most environmental lectures on the errors of our ways, we are filled with a guilty fervor that makes everybody begin to compost and recycle and put out for the environment…for a couple of weeks. We all want the quick answer that doesn’t require habitual effort, so when the world isn’t fixed in the first month, we give up. That’s not a knock on anybody’s moral character. There’s just so much stuff vying for our attention—simple tasks like separating the papers from the plastics can be easily ignored.

So it plays to our weaknesses when a brand new school boasts corridors and classroom floors so pristine you could eat off of them, because we don’t need to act responsibly or respectfully when we can bury all our mistakes and maltreatment like it’s some landfill, and then move into a nicer building. In order to truly integrate the lessons of sustainability week we have to be informed of what acting sustainably means. No amount of encouragement can cover up the fact we’re only going to stick with this sustainability thing if we decide to do it on our own. That’s where education is key.

Luckily, we’re in a school. Environmental science and AP Environmental Science are available, but most that enroll in either course are juniors and seniors. I’m in AP Environmental Science. It’s my senior year. And it’s only now, after four years, that I even partially understand the consequences of unsustainable behavior and the possibilities we have to make a change. I’ve missed my chance to contribute to Liberty’s green programs. It’s too late to tell us senior year. An Environmental Science class should be recommended for early on to take instead of physics and chemistry lab classes, so as to build up environmental awareness and respect for our community as early as possible. Then, students can make informed decisions through high school about how to treat the world we live in. That’s how we are going to make the switch to a new lifestyle. That’s how we are going to make Liberty better than we found it.